Category: Emergencies

Fighting fear and fire in California


This weekend I got some scary news. My brother is a firefighter in southern California, and he’s one of around 2,300 firefighters who’ve been fighting the Santa Barbara wildfires for the past few days.

I talked to his fiancée this weekend (they’re getting married in 10 days!) and she said Rob and some of the other firefighters had been at someone’s house waiting for an assignment when the fire suddenly came over a nearby hill straight toward them. They had to scramble to get their gear on and start fighting it. More

Monday Movement Update #8


Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Several people in Sri LankaSwine flu: Read about Raúl Serrato, one of the Mexican Red Cross volunteers who’s helping distribute health information.

Sri Lanka conflict (pictured right): The ICRC has evacuated 13,000 people from the conflict zone since 10 February. Find out more about the work they’re doing.


What will your move be?


Just been flicking through today’s papers, unsurprisingly a pretty depressing experience. Here are some of the headlines:

  • Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
  • Labour’s record on poverty in tatters
  • Witch hunts, murder and evil in Papua New Guinea
  • Villagers flee as military tackles Taliban in Swat
  • A year on, China quake survivors face uncertain future

But do you want to hear the good news? More

Community spirit hits home


The other day my Mum was attacked right outside her house in broad daylight. She had just arrived home from work and was wheeling her bike into her drive, which is on a sleepy road in west London.

As she got her house keys out of her bag, she felt a hard thwack to the back of her neck. “I was terrified…I thought I was being mugged,” she told me later. Momentarily stunned, she looked around, but couldn’t see anyone behind her. More

Monday Movement update #7


Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

A woman and baby in Mexico wear face masks

Swine flu: More than 100 people are thought to have died from swine flu in Mexico and cases have been reported in the USA and Canada. The British Red Cross has announced it’s ready to respond if there’s a large scale outbreak in the UK.

Sri Lanka conflict: As fighting continues to devastate civilians and the medical services in Sri Lanka, the ICRC has again reminded both parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law in all circumstances. More

Monday Movement update #6


Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Philippines kidnapping: Andreas Notter, the ICRC staff member who was kidnapped in the Philippines on 15 January, was freed on Saturday. His colleague Eugenio Vagni is still being held in captivity.

Sri Lanka conflict: The ICRC has evacuated more than 10,000 sick and injured people and their caregivers from the conflict zone to safer areas. Makeshift medical facilities in the conflict zone have been directly affected, with staff and patients killed and injured. More

Why Stephen Fry is my second favourite British man


I know my accent doesn’t come across well in blog posts, but I’m originally from California. Growing up, if you’d asked me what British men were like, I’d have said this: incredibly intelligent, very droll, and exceedingly kind-hearted.

Flash forward to me watching QI for the first time and ‘meeting’ Stephen Fry, my second favourite British man.*

I wouldn’t be explaining all this to you if Stephen Fry hadn’t done something that sealed his place in my heart. More

It’s good to talk


How many of you know a guy who actually likes to chat on the phone for ages? I’m guessing not many of you. That’s how I knew that the new FESS telephone support service we started was worth its weight in gold.

Traditionally our FESS team provided a crisis intervention service, which sounds a lot posher than it actually is. The fire service or police would activate us, we’d make our way to the incident, do the best we could and then leave. That was the end of our job.

Following a call out at the end of last year we’ve now extended the service we offer to include help over the phone. What this means is that we can offer comfort and advice to people at any time of day or night even if we don’t have a crew working at the time.

So how did it all start?

At about half past six on a winter’s night I took a call from fire control to ask if there was anything we could do to help a family who’d had a fire that day. The house was uninhabitable and though the family had relatives they could stay with they were very shaken up.

I wasn’t sure what help I could offer from the other end of a phone line but thought it was worth a try. It turns out there’s a lot you can do. The fire had been started by the two year old baby who had accidentally turned the hob on, setting fire to the shopping that had been left on top of it. More